Performing under pressure

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others, I watched, read, and listened in impotent and morbid fascination at the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. But one rather different interview caught my ear, while listening to the BBC.

It was the manager of the Ukrainian winter Paralympic team, still competing in Beijing at the time. Speaking in fluent English, with exhausted clarity and indelible sadness etched into every syllable, he tried to articulate how the team members were feeling about their country literally disintegrating in their absence.

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Paws for thought

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

“Ok, left, left, good boy!”
“Find the pole, find the pole, good boy!”
“Wait, ok, forward.”
“Find the kerb (curb), good boy.”
Find the pole, good boy!”
“Forward, find the kerb, good boy!”
“Straight on, no, find the kerb, forward, good boy!”
“Left, left, good boy.”
“Straight on, good boy!”
“No, we are not going right here, straight on, good boy.”
“Clever boy!” “Good boy!”
“Yes! Good boy!”
“Yes, you are such a clever boy!”

And with that, we had arrived at our destination. This is the exact conversation I have with my guide dog Ronnie when we are walking to a Rotary friend’s home every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Is it the truth?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others I imagine, I watched the compelling events to celebrate the birthday of Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, or as he is also fondly known, “The Arch.”

What struck me almost immediately was how the messages from the internationally respected leaders departed from the usual gushy sentimental birthday tributes so loved by celebrities. After short heartfelt tributes to their dearest Arch, South African Professor Thuli Madonsela; Graça Machel, widow of two heads of state (Nelson Mandela and Mozambique’s Samora Machel); and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and past UN Special Advisor on the Environment, all leapt straight in with some serious no holds barred truth telling.

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Lessons in disability inclusion: Does he take sugar?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

I had just finished keying in my pin number on the card reader at the supermarket checkout counter recently when the cashier turned to my friend and asked, “how does he know which buttons to press.”

Being completely inured to this sort of thing, I watched with interest to see how my friend would react. It is peculiar that when encountering a person with a disability, many people very often address the person accompanying them rather than addressing us directly.

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